Throughout the month of January, I am doing a 30-day minimalism challenge in an attempt to start the year off fresh by practicing mindfulness, learning to enjoy solitude, and embracing simplicity. Feel free to join in if you want, I posted an image with all the challenges for you at the bottom of this post for reference.
Minimalism and Zen go hand in hand. Minimalism is about not making life too cluttered, nor too busy. Minimalism is about not being wasteful. It’s about figuring out what true happiness is, not what advertising tells you it is. Anything that is unnecessary is wasteful, and in a world where the trash is piling up and none of us is any better for it, maybe it’s time to try a new way.
I’m starting with doing 30 days, just to give it a try. What I like, I’ll keep, what I don’t, I’ll toss.
Due to an spending almost two weeks recovering from a nasty bout with the flu, I have had to condense this challenge. I have chosen not to do posts for assignments that do not apply to me.
Follow a morning ritual
Start your day with a relaxing and energising morning ritual, instead of immediately checking your email or social media feeds. Meditate, write, do yoga or read a book.
Look, I suck at mornings, always have and I imagine I always will. I am barely making out of the door in enough time to get to work on time. In fact, I was just talked to about my tardies last week. Not that I have a bunch it’s just my job is very strict about attendance. It’s hard for me to imagine adding any new rituals without ending up running later than I am now! Whatever I do add has to be a 5 or 10-minute thing.
I guess I should start by explaining my current, and chaotic, morning routine. My alarm goes off, for the first time, at 5 am. I hit the snooze button a few times until the dog begins whining. We are supposed to go for a walk but it’s too cold in the mornings right now. Plus, I would waste a ton of time bundling up to go out in 5-degree weather so instead I let her out in the backyard for a bit. By now I am 20 – 30 minutes past the time I should have gotten up.
I search for clothes to toss in the dryer, I start the kettle, I wash a mug for coffee, and I feed the dog. I rush through a shower, teeth brushing, and taming my dreads. I scramble to find breakfast and lunch for the day, my glasses, and the electronics that must accompany me to work. All the while the dog is distracting me and my girlfriend is sighing with frustration because she is running late too. We run out the door, five to ten crucial minutes later than we wanted to, and speed to work where I check in seconds before being marked late.
I’m doing the bare minimum to prepare for the day because I cannot get up on time. If I wake up at 5 I can do a lot more but it’s hard to get my half-awake brain to remember that we would be much happier if it would get its ass in gear instead of trying like hell to squeeze a few more minutes of rest in. How do you wake up when your brain will not wake up?
Maybe adding a morning routine could help me wake up? Maybe looking forward to doing something, or having something that marks the transition from sleeping to getting ready is what I need to get going?
I’ve settled on 3 options: Meditation, yoga, or walking.
Meditation is my number one choice. It seems the easiest to add with little or no difficulty. I can do it easily if I wake up on time. I don’t have to use any extra equipment and there are very few steps I would have to add to my current morning routine. I could meditate in as little as two minutes or in as much as 10 minutes. The problem with it is finding a quiet place to do it. My girlfriend and I barely have enough room to get ready as it is and the dog is underfoot and the cat wants attention. Quiet meditation is hard to come by in the morning.
Yoga is another good choice. For awhile I tried to complete the sun salutation every morning as soon as I woke up. It felt nice to do a ritual the required certain steps. I liked learning how to do it and trying my best to get better day by day. The problem is I had no one to tell me if my posture was right and I am not flexible at all so some of it hurt. Plus the dog was still underfoot and the cat still wanted attention. I got discouraged and quit. The sun salutation is not for me.
Going for a walk is something I really want to do. I used to get do this one actually. I walked the dog for about 10 or 15 minutes every work day, and I was able to do it and get ready earlier than I do now. I think I did so well with it because it felt good to get up and get moving in the fresh air…until winter hit.
Right now it is just too cold in the morning and I cannot waste time trying to bundle up to go out in 5-degree weather. I have other plans to get my exercise in until the weather begins to warm up here. So I do choose this one but I cannot do it year round. In the meantime, I will have to make another choice.
I have chosen Today.txt and a cup of warm tea. I came across the concept of Today.txt back in 2014 and I recently rediscovered it when going through some very old Evernote files. The creator, John Muller, wrote an article where he describes his morning ritual of thinking over one thing, just one thing he wants to accomplish that day. He does it first thing in the morning, before emails, before any work. He writes out three sentences in a plain text document and saves it to his desktop:
If nothing else, today I am going to ___________.
I am going to do this by ______ then _____ then ______.
If I do this and only this, today will be a good day.
Looks simple enough, right? You declare what it is you want to accomplish, you write out a few steps you are going to take to accomplish it, and you remind yourself that if nothing else gets done today but this one thing, it will be a good day. I’m thinking of making this a form of meditation. I can sit at the kitchen table with a hot cup of tea and think about what I want to do that day for 10 minutes or so.
With this approach, I can wake up in a less stressful manner. I can have some delicious tea with honey to get my blood sugar up and hydrate me. I can think about what the focus of the day is going to be. I can lay out my steps. And I can decide from the beginning that it will be a good day. I can do all of it with a minimal addition of time or steps to my morning routine and probably get close to the same benefits I would from traditional meditation (which I still do during lunch or in the evenings anyway).
So, that is my new morning routine. What do you think? What is your morning routine? Would you be interested in adding Today.txt to your day? Let me know in the comments :)
The idea for this challenge came from Into Mind. The rules for the challenge: Do one assignment every day, the order is your call. Don’t skip a day. That’s it.